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Recent data have shown that plasmid partitioning Par-like systems are used by some bacterial cells to control localization of protein complexes. Here we demonstrate that one of these homologs, PpfA, uses nonspecific chromosome binding to separate cytoplasmic clusters of chemotaxis proteins upon division. Using fluorescent microscopy and point mutations, we show dynamic chromosome binding and Walker-type ATPase activity are essential for cluster segregation. The N-terminal domain of a cytoplasmic chemoreceptor encoded next to ppfA is also required for segregation, probably functioning as a ParB analog to control PpfA ATPase activity. An orphan ParA involved in segregating protein clusters therefore uses a similar mechanism to plasmid-segregating ParA/B systems and requires a partner protein for function. Given the large number of genomes that encode orphan ParAs, this may be a common mechanism regulating segregation of proteins and protein complexes.

Original publication




Journal article


Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A

Publication Date





6698 - 6703


DNA, Bacterial, Escherichia coli, Microscopy, Fluorescence, Point Mutation, Rhodobacter sphaeroides